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16.10.2008 General News

SNAP ANALYSIS: McCain vs Obama: who won the body language war?

By Reuters- Jeff Mason - Analysis
HEMPSTEAD, New York (Reuters) - Never mind substance. Who won the body language war?

U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain faced off in their final debate on Wednesday, but this time they had to stay seated.
That eliminated a height difference between the two men and forced them to stay in one place -- no walking around, no perching on stools.

McCain, an Arizona senator, seemed eager to jump out of his seat many times as he went on the offensive against his rival, who is ahead in public opinion polls.

Obama, an Illinois senator, wiggled around in his chair a bit as he gave his closing statement, the last word of the last debate before the November 4 election.
U.S. voters often watch the televised debates for subtle and not so subtle clues about a candidate's personality based on how he reacts, moves, and behaves in front of the camera.

Below are some tidbits about both candidates' appearance and behavior at the debate:

- Wore an American flag pin and a shiny red tie with white stripes.
- Sighed occasionally and chuckled frequently when McCain said something with which he disagreed.
- Laughed out loud when McCain said his campaign was about the economy directly after pressing Obama about his relationship with Bill Ayers, a 1960s radical.
- Smiled broadly and wished congratulations to McCain when the Arizona senator spoke about a home state sports team's recent victory.
- Referred to McCain by his first name, John.
- Looked directly at the camera when making his opening and closing statement and when discussing many of his campaign proposals.

- Wore a dark navy tie with white stripes.
- Referred to his opponent as "you" when looking at Obama but never called him by his first name, preferring "Senator Obama" instead
- Seemed antsy in his chair, gestured frequently with his hands, and played with his "sharpie" pen.
- Addressed the camera directly and spoke to "Joe" the plumber, who took on a life of his own as an invisible third participant at the debate.
- Raised his eyebrows and occasionally interrupted when Obama said things he disagreed with.
- Sometimes tripped over his words, saying referring once to "Fannie and Freddie Mae" when he meant mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- Said "good job, good job" to Obama at the end of the debate when the two candidates shook hands again.

(additional reporting by Caren Bohan and Matt Spetalnick; editing by David Wiessler)